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Healthy Lemon Bars

We’ve cut refined sugar out of our diets, but my husband LOVES lemon bars.  Unfortunately, most of the substance of a lemon bar is sugar, take that out and there’s not much left.  So, I’ve been on a quest to develop a reasonable substitute for his beloved dessert.  I started with a recipe for lemon brownies, then adapted it so much it hardly resembled the original, in fact, I’d say it’s a lot more similar to an actual lemon bar- success!  Now, don’t go expecting a lemon bar’s exact twin, but if you expect something similar, but more complex, a little more sophisticated and a lot healthier, you won’t be let down!  And bonus: no white flour or white sugar, just the good stuff:)

First, combine:

  • A generous 1/2 cup honey (or 1/4 honey and 1/4 maple syrup, which is a little tastier, but a bit more expensive too)
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Beat in your mixer:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • juice from one lemon
  • zest from one lemon

Now mix in the honey and butter combo and add:

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal/flour

Spread your batter into an 8×8 pan and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.  The edges will be a bit brown, the center should be spongy.

Now, to be extra fancy, you’re going to make a yogurt topping and zest more lemon on top!

Mix together:

  • About one cup Greek yogurt
  • Maple syrup to taste (I like it still a bit tart, so I use a couple tablespoons)
  • Zest of one lemon

Once your bars have cooled, serve them with a generous dollop of yogurt topping and a sprinkling of lemon zest.  Enjoy!!

  Leave a Reply

  • Hi Camille, happy birthday to your dad:) I haven’t tried it with coconut oil, so I’m not sure how it would turn out. Could be yummy, could be weird! Let me know how it turns out if you do try it. And maybe start with only substituting half or something? Good luck!

    Amy @ Progressive Pioneer April 15, 2012 AT 11:28 am
  • I know I’m a little slow commenting on this, but I’m so excited to make these today for my dad. It’s his birthday celebration and he has been off sugar for 15 years or so. It’s always fun to make something great for him! Just curious if you’ve ever tried this with coconut oil instead of butter? I might try that next unless you think it’s a bad idea.

    Camille April 15, 2012 AT 11:23 am
  • Could I substitute 1 cup of whole wheat flour for the 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
    and 1/2 cup almond meal/flour? My kids are allergic to nuts. I’d love to try these!


    Donna February 20, 2012 AT 6:59 pm
    • Hi Donna, I tried it with 100% whole wheat flour and the texture is much denser and a bit rubbery (not in an entirely bad way) and somehow they were greasier, like the butter didn’t fully incorporate or something. So, you could try it, but expect them to be denser and maybe cut back on the butter. Or maybe try another nut-free flour that’s kind of crumbly (not coconut flour, that soaks up too much moisture), though I can’t think of one off the top of my head… Sorry I don’t have a precise answer, my best suggestion is to experiment!

      Amy @ Progressive Pioneer February 20, 2012 AT 7:35 pm
      • Amy,

        Thanks for the reply! I forgot to check back before I made them and found your assessment to be spot on! I used 1/2 a cup of whole wheat flour and 1/2 a cup of spelt flour (mainly because I’d been itching to try it) and they were almost exactly as you described :D They were still yummy, despite the…interesting texture. The kids haven’t tried them yet but I’m sure it will make NO difference to them at ALL. I’m running into this problem with lots of recipes because a lot call for almond meal/flour and there really doesn’t seem to be an alternative. I guess this means I’m going to have to do lots of baking – and eating – until I find a solution! HA!

        Thanks for your reply and the yummy recipe (though I butchered it), Donna

        Donna March 11, 2012 AT 9:20 pm
        • Have you tried cocunut flour?

          laura February 13, 2013 AT 12:14 pm
  • These look delicious, Amy! I love lemon bars but have never tried a recipe that wasn’t full powdered sugar- ick! I have meyer lemons from my parents’ tree that will be perfect for this. :)

    Nicole February 12, 2012 AT 3:57 pm
  • Thanks so much for the awesome-looking recipe! What a coincidence, too. I made (the unhealthy version of) lemon bars just last weekend and was feeling guilty about the ingredients. I can’t wait to try your recipe! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Stephanie February 6, 2012 AT 5:00 pm
  • they look great. going to try making them for our Valentine’s Day dessert!

    liz coplon February 5, 2012 AT 1:03 pm
  • These look great! Have you ever frozen them?

    Sarah February 4, 2012 AT 8:00 pm
    • Sarah, I’ve never tried freezing them, but now I’m curious… Although it’s a small batch and they never last more than a day or two around here anyway:)

      Amy Thompson February 4, 2012 AT 9:16 pm
  • These sound delicious and I can’t wait to try them! I’ve been looking for a lemon bar recipe without refined sugar.
    And to second Tiffany–how do I import this to my PTE recipe book? I would think there would be an easy way.

    Krissa February 4, 2012 AT 5:35 pm
  • Is there not a link to automatically import this to my PTE Recipe Book?

    Tiffany (As For My House) February 4, 2012 AT 3:02 pm
  • These are lovely. Nothing like devilishly delicious healthy food. Thanks for sharing, can’t wait to make them this week!

    Erika February 4, 2012 AT 2:12 pm


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